The Falconer is (FINALLY!) A Book!

The Falconer is a book now. A finished book.

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It’s hard not to get sentimental about seeing it in hardback and done, done, done.

I came up with the idea in the spring of 2010, about a noblewoman who hunts the fae in historic Scotland.  I didn’t know how to write it. I was already sending another manuscript around to agents (the 9th one I’d written), and putting all of my rejections for it in a neat little email folder to keep track of.

Rejection, rejection, rejection. Everyone kept saying, “Keep trying! Keep sending it out! All it takes is one yes.”  I don’t blame agents for rejecting that manuscript at all. If I had managed to find my one Agent “Yes” and one Editor “Yes”, it would have been a terrible debut. I don’t think I would have come to love it later. I think I would have come to hate it.

thefalconer_elizabethmay2After receiving 2 rejections of the full manuscript in the same day, I decided to put #9 away.  Now, don’t feel sad about #9. It was a good stepping stone novel. It was a good experience for me. Rejections, I believe, are good things. They are learning things. If #9 hadn’t been so soundly rejected, I would never have started manuscript #10.

I began manuscript #10 in the early summer of 2010.  After my querying experience, I just wanted to write a book with all my favourite things in it: romance, folklore, strong girls, technology . . .

I didn’t intend for it to be a serious thing. I had spent a long time researching publishing, trying to be published, since I was a young teen. I wanted to write a book for the simple joy of writing, and that was it.

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It wasn’t until I had finished the first draft of what would later become The Falconer that I realized it was the first story I wrote that I thought was worthy of being published. Not just that, but worthy of me taking the time to make it right.  The first draft wasn’t very good at all. It was messy pure joy writing, unsophisticated and chaotic.

I just wasn’t good enough to write the story. I didn’t have the skill or the understanding of the characters to get much out of them beyond the words on paper. There was little nuance in my main character, Aileana. And yet I knew there was so much more to her.

So, I wrote the manuscript again.  From scratch.

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Aileana is a challenging character, not an anti-hero but not-quite-a-hero. She is a girl. A strong girl, a grieving girl, a vulnerable girl.  It wasn’t until I wrote her that I realized that every other protagonist I had written were defined by single personality traits. Aileana was not a character easily defined, and therefore not easily written.  I didn’t have the skill to write her at the time, either.

I wrote the book again. It was a much cleaner draft about a girl who had mastered the art of pretense to hide just how very angry she actually was. Anger, you see, was not proper. Ladies weren’t supposed to be angry. They were supposed to be nice. 

That was the book I wanted to write, the book I wanted to be my debut. Edits and edits and edits and 39 months from the time I typed its first words, it became this:

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A book. A beautiful book that I’m proud to have written.